The Official Weblog of Internet Person Sam Killermann
Better Humaning

Learn For a Project, Not the Sake of Learning

The common foundation that is the basis for everything I've taught myself, from programming to design to golf.

Because I’m self-taught in most things I do — from programming to design to animation — a lot of my friends ask me for tips on how to learn a particular thing.

“I want to learn how to make websites,” a friend will ask. “Where do you think I should start?”

Over the years, I’ve given a lot of different responses. Pointing people to free online resources for learning, like Codecademy or Khan Academy. Or telling them to join a local workshop or meet-up. Or both.

It’s not how I learned, but it’s easier to point someone to a resource than it is to give an autobiography for how I learned something myself.

However, seeing that advice fail again and again prompted me to rethink my rationale.

What would it look like, if I advised people to learn things how I’ve learned them?

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Technolophizing

You Can Stop Saying “They Should Make A…”

There was a time when You needed Their permission. That time has past.

Something I see all the time on the internet is people saying “They should have a…” or “They should make a…” and then sharing some idea, platform, service, movement, or cause that the commenter wants, and believes “they” should create.

A few years ago, this made sense. The request was legitimate and necessary.

There were gatekeepers in every industry — from arts to activism to commerce to community-building — who were the “They.” It was They who had to approve our appeal to create a new thing.

You couldn’t just make that thing, or build that platform, or create that movement, release that show, or host that community yourself.

You needed Their permission. You needed Them to make it for you.

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(Un)Happiness

The Big Thing Being Bedridden with the Flu for a Week Made Me Realize

What I got in exchange for 11 pounds of bodyweight and 80 hours of productivity.

For the past 7 days, my life was consumed by the flu. Technically, I was more couch-ridden than bedridden, but I was decidedly horizontal. Luckily, I had a faithful guardian who didn’t leave my side, so I survived.

This is the first time I’ve had the flu in as long as I can remember. I don’t get sick often. The last time I was even “take a day off work” sick was over a year ago (and I don’t even have to get a doctor’s note to call in — I have lenient bosses).

Yesterday, as I was catching up on the SNL I missed, I realized I didn’t get most of the jokes because I hadn’t been keeping up with politics or the news (or even trying).

Today, something else hit me, as I started to dive back into work and catch up with life, that I can attribute entirely to the flu:

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Work dot Com

A Checklist to Work Through Before Creating Any New Website, Blog, or App

Don't hire a designer until you've figured these things out.

Are you thinking about creating a website? Or a blog? Or an app? Do you want to be “in the cloud,” but you’re not really sure what that is? Have you been talking with colleagues about this idea, or received direction from your boss, and started figuring out how to do it yourself, or looking into hiring a designer/developer to build it for you?

Great! Good on you. Making things is really exciting, and it’s really fun to hit the ground running.

The natural next step you might make is to start price shopping around, looking for an agency or creative you can afford.

Not great! But no fault to you: this is what most people do next. And it’s something that results in a lot of wasted money in the long run.

Before you start designing or building something that you have in mind, and definitely before you start paying someone else to, there are a few things you need to figure out.

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Work dot Com

Why I Hadn’t Funded My Work with Patreon

It's not just about a discomfort with money.

For several years, my “day job” (the one paying my bills) has been performing comedy shows. Meanwhile, my hobby has been creating online resources, tools, and organizations for justice.

If you think that’s a weird combo, you’re not alone. I’m with you: it’s hard to wrap my mind around the truth that the way I make money is comedy, then I use that money to pay to do administrative-paperwork-email-non-profit-type stuff.

Usually, it’s the other way around.

What’s even weirder? Switching things up — and starting to fund my online advocacy work directly, not via comedy shows — seems less likely to succeed than continuing to be a working comedian.

And yes — I’ve heard of Patreon. People have told me about it hundreds of times, for years and years, every time I made that point.

A lot of the work I do is a great fit for Patreon. But I’ve been resistant to the idea of funding it that way. The reasons are a mix of ethics and personal discomforts, and are all tied directly to my work, and the change I hope it effects.

So why haven’t I done it?

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